The holidays are around the corner—and that means the January job search launch for first jobs and internships is looming large. Right now you’re probably up to your ears with schoolwork, so how do you get an easy head start now for the job search sprint ahead?
Start the networking that does not yet require any major investment of time. That’s the networking that you can do via Linkedin. This business networking site requires, at this stage, not too much more than a connection process similar to the “friending” you do on Facebook every day.
While you’re focused on your schoolwork, your Linkedin network can organically grow. You’ll be in very good company: there are over 20 million students and recent college graduates on Linkedin—you’re in the site’s fastest growing demographic. To join in, all you need to do is take a couple of hours to do two things:
1. Create a profile at www.linkedin.com
2. Write a networking message you can quickly tweak for each invitation to connect.
Because you don’t have a lot of time right now, create just a basic profile. Don’t worry about the important extras like recommendations until your schedule allows. To see a good profile for a college senior, look at my daughter’s at this link. (You might even want to send her an invitation to grow your list of connections!) For some pointers on Linkedin profiles, also see my blog post, “Unveiling the Wizard of Linkedin“.
Then write a networking message that can be used for your invitations to people within personal circles—family, family friends, neighbors, parents of your friends, colleagues of your parents and other family members, etc. You’ll venture farther out in your networking when you have the time to devise a strategic plan.
Your invitation message should be something simple like this (keep to 300 characters):
“As you know I’m a college senior, and I’m starting to plan my job search. My major is psychology and my passion is photography. I’ve had several summer jobs & internships that enhanced my photography skills. I’m interested in creative department jobs at magazines, advertising firms or fashion houses and would really appreciate any networking leads.”
If you are sending an invitation to a friend of a friend, start your invitation note by saying “Jane Smith suggested that we connect…”
Once you have your basic invitation template, then get ready for the busy college student’s Linkedin challenge. Set a goal to have your first 25 connections by January 1st. To reach this goal you need to be safe and invite about 50 people to connect. Cut down your daily Facebook time by 15 minutes or so, and each day for the next few weeks send two or three people invitations to connect. (Not everyone responds immediately—or at all.)
One great way to get a lot of ideas for possible invitations is to see who you know among the connections of your parents and other family members. When you want to send someone an invitation, all you have to do is click “Connect” and then click that you know the person as a “Friend”. Insert your invitation note, tweak it accordingly, and watch the number of connections you have almost effortlessly go up—while you’re busy making sure that your grade point average never goes down.
This blog first appeared on 9 Lives for Women on 11/19/2012.
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